For the first time all season, injuries were the theme when Stanford head coach David Shaw addressed the media on Monday. The biggest news was that sophomore wide receiver Ty Montgomery will likely miss the Cardinal’s game at Notre Dame with a lower leg injury suffered against Arizona. Montgomery is the fastest player on the entire Stanford squad, according to Shaw, but is having a disappointing season with just 18 catches for 168 yards through the first five games.
Assuming Montgomery does miss the game against the Irish, senior Jamal-Rashad Patterson will start in his place. Cardinal fans have been waiting four years for Patterson to finally break out of his shell, and Shaw believes that Patterson is ready after shedding weight during his time with the track team.
The two other pieces of injury news are positive for Stanford, as Shaw announced that he expects both junior running back Anthony Wilkerson and senior cornerback Terrence Brown to play. Wilkerson seems to be almost a lock to return from his lower leg injury suffered against USC after practicing on Monday night. Brown is a bit more up in the air after being kicked in the head by a hurdling ball carrier against Arizona. With the head injury, Shaw indicated he would leave the final decision up to the doctors, but he is optimistic Brown will play.
Two true freshmen have gotten themselves into the rotation over the last two weeks, wide receiver Kodi Whitfield and defensive end Aziz Shittu, which is a rare change for this far into the season. Shittu’s first action came last Saturday against the Wildcats, though Shaw told the media that he had been planning on using the speedy lineman for a few weeks now. He provides tremendous athleticism for a defensive lineman, which is a major reason why he saw his first action against Arizona’s high-tempo offense.
Based on this week’s updated depth chart, Shittu may have done enough to warrant a spot in the rotation for weeks to come, replacing sophomore Charlie Hopkins as senior Ben Gardner’s backup. Other notable moves include junior A.J. Tarpley’s ascent back to a starting role, now listed as a co-starter with sophomore James Vaughters at inside linebacker after starting the Arizona game.
Due to the Montgomery injury, a trio of freshmen wide receivers will make their first appearance on the depth chart this week. Whitfield now joins sophomore Kelsey Young as a backup to senior Drew Terrell at the number one receiver position. At the other receiver slot, redshirt freshmen Jordan Pratt and sophomore Devon Cajuste crack the chart behind Patterson.
Pratt is looking to make an impact on the gridiron after an eight-year minor league baseball career with the LA Dodgers. He made it as high as Triple-A before retiring from baseball, enrolling at Stanford and walking on the football team at wide receiver. With Montgomery’s absence and a lack of experienced depth at the position, Pratt has a good chance to see the field in South Bend.
In much lighter, but still breaking news, Gardner announced that his mullet is back, and will stay through the end of the 2012 season. He cut the mullet after the 2011 regular season ended, and most of his teammates tease that the team was cursed in the Fiesta Bowl because of the haircut.
Rather than argue with them, Gardner decided to bring back the mullet for one last hurrah, but adamantly stated that this will be the last season for the mullet, which may even be shaved in the locker room after Stanford’s final game. So if the team needed any more motivation to try to reach its goal of The Rose Bowl, a few more weeks of Gardner’s mullet provides just that.